Newspaper Article

February 15, 2020

"Let's Keep an Eye on Our Motives"

Recently we were able to enjoy a rare snowfall in our area. If I had been at home, there wouldnít have been much to see. However, we had traveled to my daughterís house for a birthday party for one of our grandchildren. It turned out to be the perfect scenario. We arrived as the beautiful, big flakes began to fall. It covered the ground with at least a couple of inches of the type of wet snow that was great for everyone to get out in, have snowball fights, and make snowmen. Then by the time we were ready to leave, it was melting on the roads into an easily navigable slush.

As I kept an eye on the weather radar that morning, it seemed that we were right on the border between the rain and the snow. That was confirmed when I left to travel back home, finding that just a few miles down the road there was no snow to be found. So for some people, it was a nasty morning of cold rain to be avoided. But for those just a few miles away, it was a winter wonderland inviting people to get out in it and play. It was amazing the difference a short distance made.

Sometimes it may seem like there is a fine line or a short distance between what pleases God and what He abhors. Much of it can look the same to us on the surface. We see similar actions Ė attending a worship service, singing, praying, preaching, assisting someone in need, giving money to a worthy cause, along with other religious and charitable deeds. On our radar it all appears to be commendable behavior. However, God can see what we canít. His radar distinguishes between those actions in ways that ours often doesnít. He sees the hearts and the motives behind those actions. And that can make all the difference between it bringing Him great pleasure or causing Him to turn away in disgust.

Jesus gave us some of the clearest examples of this when he referred to those who did their charitable deeds or prayed their public prayers in order to be seen and commended by other people (see Matthew 6:1-7). It comes out elsewhere in the Bible too, as God rejects the sacrifices and other religious acts of people because of the condition of their hearts or the reasons behind their seemingly good actions. Sometimes it can be more obvious faults, such as unconfessed sin or doing such acts for personal gain. Other times the reason for Godís displeasure can be due to more subtle and harder to recognize motives. Such motivations may include doing it for oneís own glory rather than for the glory of God, viewing it as a burdensome thing you are being forced to do rather than as a joyous act you are privileged to do, doing it simply out of habit or following tradition rather than with thought and passion, or doing it primarily out of the personal enjoyment or fulfilment you receive rather than out of love for the Lord and love for others.

Itís always wise to keep an eye on our motives. We may start out doing something for a good reason, but gradually slip away into motives that are less honorable. Letís regularly look at what we do and ask why weíre doing it. We may need to ask the Lord to search our hearts and reveal to us what may be hard for us to see or difficult to admit about ourselves.

Letís seek to please the Lord, not just by what we do, but also by why weíre doing it.